The Key Ingredients for Successful Project-Based Learning
Projects are everywhere, all around us, no matter what our profession is. We all need to do planning and research, work with a team, adapt to feedback continuously while trying to find the most viable solutions to budget-related problems. And that’s just when we’re working.
Even our lives outside of the office are full of projects and things to do. Planning a birthday party or baking a cake requires research and planning, collaboration, communication, and constant adaptation. The education system’s job is to prepare students for adult life, which is filled with projects.
But, much of the work done in schools, regardless of level, is still done through memorization capacity, lectures, and standardized assessments. These are not the most essential requirements that prepare students for a life with projects.
An Overview of Project-Based Learning
PBL, or project-based learning, is a teaching method in which students learn and acquire new skills by working to investigate and respond to a complex and engaging problem or question. It is a viable solution for providing instruction. Since it is based on the student’s needs and learning objective, it can lead to excellent academic results and better student achievement.
If students can be focused on a project, they are set on a path that builds the skills they will need in the future, while also deepening their knowledge. They’ll acquire skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.
What is Needed for Effective Project-Based Learning?
Before we detail what is absolutely necessary for project-based learning, it is essential to note that any project must be designed based on the student’s learning goals and how it will benefit the development of their critical skills.
To provide an example, if students were to learn why fish swim, they would need to learn about and understand certain content about fish biology and physics laws. They need to put their minds to work and ask questions and explain what they understand.
Key Project-Based Learning Elements
If you provide your students with a challenging enough problem, they are sure to have a plethora of questions that lead to solutions, which lead to more questions. Let’s go back to the fish example:
- “Why do fish have gills?”
- “How do the gills help them swim?”
- “Why are fish cold-blooded?”
The project has to be designed around a problem that must be solved or a question that must be answered, and they’ll need to be presented excitingly. Instead of saying, “Today we are going to learn why fish swim,” say, “Today we are going to learn why fish are cold-blooded.”
In project-based learning, students should be encouraged to make decisions about their learning journey. If they are involved in learning, it should not matter how much time they spend watching videos compared to how much time they spend reading. The same goes for team vs. individual work.
This kind of empowerment can lead to better, higher rates of retention.
Project-based learning provides a new way to teach students and keep them engaged and prepares them for the real world in a way that other teaching methods simply cannot. It is an essential tool that all teachers should be using to its full potential.